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Tired of the cat carrier rodeo? By: Dr. Clarissa Noureddine

Does your cat look like this when you are getting ready for a vet visit?

Do you feel like you are in the middle of a cat rodeo when attempting to corral your normally calm and gentle cat into the little tiny box of a carrier? Or does your feline friend seem to spontaneously develop a 6th sense that instructs him/her to run and hide even before you have emerged from the garage with the dusty carrier? Have you actually had to cancel or reschedule a vet appointment because your cat continued to elude entrapment until well past closing of the veterinary clinic? Alternatively, when you are able to successfully corral your cat into the carrier (and perhaps even remain on schedule), does Fluffy have to share close quarters with cobwebs, insects, leaves, or other debris inside the carrier?

If so, then maybe it’s time to rethink the relationship your cat has with the cat carrier. Cats love boxes and climbing into things.  Start using the carrier to your advantage by making it a permanent fixture in your cat’s surroundings. Pick a special spot for your feline friend inside the house to place the carrier as a more permanent napping place. Don’t forget to line the inside (and perhaps the top too!) with a nice soft blanket. You can also include special toys, treats, or other clothing items with your scent to entice the cat. Leave the door open, and over time you may just find your cat napping peacefully inside the carrier.

By using the carrier as environmental enrichment (as opposed to a home for spiders, insects, and rodents in the garage), your cat will become desensitized to the negative associations of the carrier with a car ride / vet trip / etc. Additionally, the carrier will become a place of familiarity, safety, and comfort. And then the next time you need to collect your favorite feline and head to the car - your life, and your cat’s, will be much less stressful!